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Sam Kerr named NWSL Most Valuable Player

The award tops off a historic season for the Australian star striker.

Sam Kerr was named the NWSL MVP for the 2017 season.
Jeff Auger Photography, courtesy of Sky Blue

The National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL) announced on Friday that Sky Blue FC and Australia women’s national team forward Sam Kerr had been voted the Most Valuable Player for the 2017 season. She is the first Sky Blue FC player to win the league’s highest honor.

The 24-year-old Perth native’s 2017 season in New Jersey was one for the record books, literally. Her 17 goals this year broke the league’s single-season goals record, set by the Seattle Reign’s Kim Little in 2014, and earned the Aussie the Golden Boot award. Those 17 goals—none of which were from the penalty spot—increased her league career total to 43, which broke the NWSL career goals record set by the North Carolina Courage’s Jessica McDonald earlier in the season.

Her four-goal performance in Sky Blue’s 5-4 home win over Seattle was the first time an NWSL player had scored four goals in a single game, and it marked the first time a player has scored multiple hat tricks in a single season. Only Portland’s Nadia Nadim and Seattle’s Megan Rapinoe have multiple career hat tricks, although theirs were scored across multiple seasons. Kerr’s first hat trick, scored in the final 12 minutes of Sky Blue’s 100th regular season match on July 18 against FC Kansas City, was also the fastest hat trick scored in league history.

Kerr’s 17 goals and four assists on the season saw her finish 2017 with 58 career points, making her the first player to hit the 50 career-points mark. The star forward also led the league in shots (91), shots on target (54) and offsides (38).

Five of her goals were game-winners, and Kerr scored against eight of the other nine teams in the league. For an idea of just how important Kerr was to Sky Blue, the team only lost two of the matches in which Kerr scored. More important than any goals or statistics, though, were Kerr’s commitment and dedication to her club on and off the field. Her teammates repeatedly called her the consummate teammate, a fact that was acknowledged when she was named co-captain following Christie Pearce’s departure from the team.

For her season, she was named Player of the Month on two occasions, Player of the Week on three, and named to the Team of the Month on four consecutive ones. She was also named to the league’s Best XI at the end of the regular season and Sky Blue’s MVP for 2017.

Following the conclusion of the NWSL season, Kerr returned home to Australia to rejoin her Westfield W-League club, Perth Glory, alongside Sky Blue teammates Nikki Stanton and Raquel Rodriguez.